I like the crass, off-color environment of the ER. I do. I've always been a blunt, straightforward, no-bullshit kind of person, and I love working with a bunch of other people who value expedience over soothing ruffled feathers. In a trauma, you don't have time to fuck around with, "Pardon me, but could you possibly hand me that transparent bandage?" No. You say, "Op-Cit! I NEED THE OP-CIT RIGHT NOW!" And no one takes it personally. I love that physicians can say, "You are one fucked-up individual," and I know it's a compliment. It's a bizarre world to live in, but I fit here.
Until it's not funny anymore. It's difficult to explain where the line is in an environment like this one, and that is an argument for professionalism, but that just isn't going to happen in an ER setting, ever.
Things that are not funny, ever:
- Colleagues pitching real, furious fits in public areas
- Physicians yelling at nurses
- Especially at patient bedsides
- Humor at a colleague's expense
- Morbid humor at the expense of a truly ill or injured patient
Perhaps ER employees feel as if, since we are thick-skinned and strange people, we can act however we want, but there is a line somewhere. It may be like a game of double-Dutch, but at some point everyone agrees that it has been crossed.
No one, for example, should EVER put down a colleague in front of a patient. I get incredibly pissed off when physicians do this to me. And when I talk to them about it and am told I am being too sensitive, that makes it worse. I mentally translate "you are being too sensitive" to "I'm calling you names to cover up the fact that I behaved like an asshole and am unable to confess to it."
Other nurses cross lines, too. Usually we know when we've done it and back off, but sometimes it has to be said, and fireworks go off. Somehow, it's worse in an environment where, generally, anything goes.